Friday, January 25, 2008

Places I Eat

Everyone thinks their restaurants are the best. The truth of the matter is that 90% of the time people eat around their houses or near work. I am no exception to this rule. Whenever anyone asks me for recommendations I usually steer them to restaurants near my house (in the Castro) or where I hang out (in the Mission). I usually eat at places I can walk to or a place I am already familiar with. I have friends that are always eating at new restaurants, but lately I have been doing a ton of cooking at home. It’s odd, I like new things but when it comes to eating I seem to be drawn towards cravings rather than novelty. This is not to say that I don't eat at new restaurants but it seems most of the time I go back to old favorites or places that have been so highly recommended that I am forced to try them or create a great rift in my social life. So here is a list of some of the places I like to eat and a few places I am yet to try but had better get to soon or be ostracized. They range from cheap and easy places to high-end eateries meant for special occasions.

DISCLAMER - This is not a “best of” list, these are just places I like. So there! They are in no particular order.

Sunflower (both) - Vietnamese - There are two restaurants that share one kitchen. The food is clean and fresh and very cheap. I like the vermicelli with imperial roles and BBQ pork (like $6.95). My wife likes the Pho, shaken beef and lemon grass tofu. They also have one of the best lunch deals in town.
Mission - 3111 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-5022

2223 - California Cuisine - That’s the address on Market Street and the restaurant’s name. This is a good solid restaurant. Not revolutionary cuisine, but it does recipes that you’re familiar with, really well. Recently they have had some ups and downs, but it is still one of my go-to restaurants. Great drinks and atmosphere. Market, Castro

2223 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 431-0692

China First - Chinese - This is great Chinese food. A lot of the specials are written in Chinese on boards on the wall, so I feel like I am missing out a little. But ask them to prepare almost anything you want and they will. This place is so cheap and has a very “authentic” atmosphere (fish tanks, crab tanks, giant clams, lazy susans and terse yet strangely accommodating waiters that would be smiling if they knew how). Great for large groups. Not classy but really good food. This and Tong Kiang are the only reason I go to the Richmond.

336 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 387-8370

Ton Kiang - Dim Sum - Clean, diverse Dim Sum, accessible to gringo novices and sophisticated authentic palates. It’s great for Dim Sum, the regular food is passable. Other Dim Sum places have a better selection, but for some reason this place just does it right. No matter how many people you have in your party it will cost you between $20-$22 a person including tip.

5821 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 221-2121
(415) 752-4440 - Delivery

Caffé Macaroni - Italian - I ate here for the first time about two weeks ago. I thought it was good solid Italian food. My chicken was overcooked but the sauce it came with was really fresh and tasted great. It is owned by a father/daughter team and with native Italians in the kitchen, you can’t complain about authenticity. They also own the one across the street (temporarily closed). I haven’t found great Italian food in S.F, so this will have to do.

North Beach
124 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133
Telefono: (415) 217-8400

St. Frances Soda Fountain - Indie-Rock Diner. The service is good, the food is O.K and a little pricy for a diner, but it seems that all diners in this town are pricy. You will wait for a table if you come here for brunch on the weekends and during peak lunch hours during the week. If you’re lucky you may see the Mythbusters team in here. Worth checking out. My brother swears by the burger. I eat the Reuben. Salad dressings leave a lot to be desired.

24th ST mission
The Mission
2801 24th St
between Bryant St & York St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-4200

RNM - California Cuisine - I hear this place good, very highly recommended. Definitely pricey, but has, possibly, the best maitre d’ in town. Check it out.

Lower Haight
598 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 551-7900

Firefly - California Cuisine - This is a staple restaurant for a date or dinner with the parents. It is cozy and has a great warm atmosphere. All the food is great; I have never had a bad meal there. Sometimes they have prix-fix menu that is also a very good deal. One of the quieter restaurants in San Francisco.

Noe Valley
4288 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 821-7652

Hog Island (Farm and Ferry Building) - Oysters & limited food menu - If you like oysters just go. You will leave the Ferry Building hungry, but damn those oysters are good. The farm is a great way to spend the day but call first and get reservations.

(Embarcadero, Marshall)

1 Ferry Building
Shop #111
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 391-7117

20215, Highway 1, in Marshall, CA.
49 miles north of San Francisco,
(415) 663-9218 ext. 208

Manora’s Thai Cuisine - Thai Food - One of the best lunch specials town. You get your choice of two dishes plus soup and seasoned rice. I’ve actually never been there for dinner.

1600 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 861-6224

Osha - Thai Food - great food, smaller portions, but the dishes are really good.

819 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-7738

Old Jerusalem - Middle Eastern - best Middle Eastern food I have eaten in S.F. Atmosphere is O.K but the food shines. I mean this is the real deal; I’m not talking about that lightweight Truly Med stuff. The portions are perfect for eating family style. Expect to leave very full.

Mission near Cesar Chavez
2976 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 642-5958

Zeitgeist - Grill Food - Great burgers! I am sick of the home fries but the burgers are awesome. Other than that, the grilled cheese is the only thing worth getting. Unfortunately the burgers only come well done, but for some reason they taste great.

Neighborhood: The Mission
199 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-7505

Vallarta Taqueria - Full Mexican Menu - I think this is some of the best Mexican around. It’s the real deal. The clientele is mostly Hispanic which to me is a good sign. The other day I was in for lunch and saw them boiling an entire cow’s head. It was a sight to behold. Don’t miss the great tacos served at a little separate stand in the front of the restaurant!

24th ST, Mission
Neighborhood: The Mission
3033 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-8116

Na'an and anything (Chutney, Curry and so on) – Indian - I have eaten at the one in the Inner Sunset and the one downtown as well as the one in North Beach. I can’t tell any of them apart menu-wise, even though the names are different. Most of them are good. The one in North Beach is the best. They skimp a little on the meat but the sauces are enough over basmati rice. The prawns at the downtown location are spicy and delicious. (All over the city)

Chow & Park Chow - Comfort Food - Food is B-, but there is something for everyone. If you can’t make up your mind, go to Chow, you’ll leave satisfied. That’s all I’m going to say.

Church and Market and Inner Sunset
215 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 552-2469

1240 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 665-9912

Blue - Comfort Food - Good food, great portions, but needs better décor. I don’t need to say more than the comfort food is comforting. Try the mac n'cheese.

2337 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 863-2583

Boulevard - I still think this one of the best restaurants in San Francisco. I have eaten at most of the high-end restaurants in town and this one still holds up. They went through a spell about two years ago of putting two or three small entrée’s on a plate, like short ribs and monkfish on one plate. It just didn’t work but they have remedied it since. I have never had a bad meal there.

1 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 543-6084

This isn’t a complete list of all the places I eat but it is a good start. If you ever find yourself in any of these neighborhoods, I highly recommend checking them out. Hey, by the way, send us your recommendations!

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